Journey with Wits Journalism students to find faces and stories of different types of work in Melville and Parktown. From the pavement entrepreneurs, the iconic barber and church turned print studio to the children’s theatre in Parktown. Buzzing tuk tuks weave through Melville and surrounds, including the charity shop that homes many cats, the fashionably retro youth vintage clothing store and encounter the magic of one of the city’s few remaining independent bookstores.

This project was produced by students of the Wits Honours in Journalism programme.

This year the team tackled the theme of work, formal and informal as well as entrepreneurial in the Johannesburg suburbs of Melville and Parktown.

Work is not necessarily associated with fun but is about survival and creativity. Technology and changes in the work space along with migration and our connected planet have brought changes in the ever-shifting landscape of work.

These are mirrored across Johannesburg, including the suburbs. Contemporary Melville is probably associated with fun and relaxation, although historically white and working class. Parktown is more generally identified as a traditionally “leafy suburb” with larger properties and historic houses that are heritage sites. But underneath broad perceptions or stereotypes there can be surprises, adding to nuance and vibrancy of an area.

As we explore the world of work we also see the inevitable tension between preserving 100-year-old buildings and development and change.

Transforming lives through theatre is no child’s play

The National Children’s Theatre is an old establishment shaping the futures of young artists. LITTLE FEET stomp on the wooden floor above me at the National Children’s Theatre’s (NCT) during Saturday morning workshops. The old wooden ceiling below them squeaks,...

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A job for the toughest sole

Informal work is the foundation of any developing area, it provides an avenue for its populace to push back against poverty and deprivation. Melville is no different. When you arrive on 7th Street in Melville, the veneer of restaurants and bars stand out to all in...

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Evolution of the long standing heart of worship

The pink church with the blue door is one of Melville’s iconic historical sites. The landmark follows the journey of prayers, businesses and an overarching spirit of a building with tales stretching over 115 years. Placed on a steeply sloping site, in a quiet part of...

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In the slow lane with Melville’s tuk-tuks

The tuk-tuk industry in Melville has been bustling since 2010. With the entry of competitors such as Uber and Taxify, some drivers are getting creative in order to carve out a living for themselves and their families. TWO BLUE blue tuk-tuks are parked at the back of...

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The keepers of the stories told by vintage clothing

Melville has long been known to be one of the most popular thrift communities in the City of Johannesburg.  A vintage store on the main drag is keeping the tradition alive while still providing a decent livelihood for its owners.   IT IS 10:24 on a bright, sunny...

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Preserving the memory of Melville

As the artsy Johannesburg suburb of Melville modernises, its rich heritage is slowly beginning to fade. Now, new efforts are being made by those who are fighting to keep Melville’s heritage alive. It’s a warm Saturday afternoon in Melville, Johannesburg. Spring has...

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